British police say phone hacking case may be reopened

6th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief was under renewed pressure Monday after Scotland Yard said they could reopen their probe into a phone hacking scandal if new evidence surfaced.

The use of phone-hacking by the News of the World tabloid was under fresh scrutiny following a story in The New York Times about the extent of voicemail hacking that in 2007 led to two journalists being jailed.

A growing list of figures have urged a new probe into the practice by Britain's biggest-selling newspaper amid renewed criticism of Andy Coulson, the tabloid's ex-editor, and now Cameron's communications director.

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates said his detectives had asked The New York Times to provide any new material linked to the case.

The US report renewed questions about Coulson, who quit as the News of the World editor over the row but has always denied knowledge of the hacking.

However, the weekly's former reporter Sean Hoare has claimed that Coulson knew about the paper's staff eavesdropping on private messages.

Yates said Scotland Yard upto now had no new evidence to reopen the case but would consider any new information.

"We have always said that this position could change if new evidence was produced," he said in a statement.

"The New York Times contacted the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) about their investigation. Our stance remains as before.

"We have repeatedly asked them for any new material that they have for us to consider. We were never made aware of the material from Sean Hoare before the article's publication.

"We have sought additional information from them and will consider this material, along with Sean Hoare's recent BBC radio interview, and will consult the Crown Prosecution Service on how best to progress."

All five candidates bidding to fill the vacancy for opposition Labour Party leader left by former British prime minister Gordon Brown have called for a fresh inquiry into unconfirmed claims that reporters listened in to the voicemail messages of a long list of prominent figures, including politicians and celebrities.

Cameron's Downing Street office said Coulson "totally and utterly" denied Hoare's allegations, while the News of The World has said any claims by "disgruntled" former employees should be treated with "extreme scepticism".

Clive Goodman, the tabloid's then royal editor, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in 2007 after the phone messages of aides to Prince William, second in line to the throne, were illegally accessed.

Prominent police, military and sporting figures were also allegedly targeted in what was a major scandal.

The News of the World's recent claims about the involvement of Pakistan cricketers in a betting scam has been a major global story.

The undercover scoop has led to three players being suspended and charged by the anti-corruption unit of the sport's world governing body.

© 2010 AFP

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